Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: The Kingdom of Women

A forgotten society embracing a matrilineal culture, hidden high in the Tibetan mountains. The title was enough to grab my attention and when the opportunity came to read it, I took it.

Essentially, The Kingdom of Women is a book based upon author Choo Wai Hong's journey of discovery of her ancestral roots and her "spiritual home" among the Mosuo.

So lets begin with a little background: author Choo Wai Hong had a high paying legal career in Singapore, which she gave up to embark upon this journey of self discovery. During her travels in China's Yunnan Province, she comes upon the Mosuo and is intrigued by their culture and customs. She is welcomed into the community and decides that she will lay down her roots here and "go native".

Thus Kingdom of Women is a memoir of Choo's times in the Mosuo community, covering a period of approximately seven years. We are introduced to the particular customs of this female dominant society, all the while lamenting at the adoption of modern Chinese cultural practices by the young Mosuo, and what soon may soon by lost to the mists of time.

The author's style is easy and not overly burdensome with clinical details - and her story comes across as part-memoir, part-travelogue. If you are looking for something more akin to an anthropological study of this fascinating culture, then this is not for you.

Further reading:
The Guardian: Is China's Mosuo tribe the world's last matriarchy?
New York Times: Kingdom of Daughters
Societies of Peace: Matriarchal marriage patterns of the Mosuo people of China

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